0 to 180 km in 10 minutes: B.C. Hydro rolls out faster electric vehicle charging

VANCOUVER - B.C. Hydro has unveiled plans to install new charging stations it says can add as much as 180 kilometres worth of range to the average electric vehicle in 10 minutes.

The utility says the new 180-kilowatt units will be added to its network as soon as this fall, with even more scheduled to arrive in 2024.

The first communities to get the new faster-charge stations are Surrey, Manning Park and, north of Prince George, Mackenzie and Tumbler Ridge.

B.C. Hydro president Chris O'Riley says both current and prospective electric vehicle owners have said they want improved coverage in more rural parts of the province in order to address range anxiety.

"We are listening to feedback from our customers," he said.

The new stations will also be the first from B.C. Hydro to offer power sharing, which lets two different vehicles use the same unit to charge at the same time.

The adoption of electric vehicles in B.C. is much higher in southern urban areas than rural, northern ones, according to statistics from the provincial government made available in 2022.

The figures showed about one in every 45 people owns a zero-emission vehicle in the southwest regions of the province, but that number drops to one in 232 in the Kootenays and one in 414 in northern B.C.

The number of public charging stations closely corresponds to the number of zero-emission vehicles in various regions.

The Vancouver area has more than 500 fast-charging ports, according to ChargeHub, a website that tracks charging stations in North America. 

In contrast, the route from Prince George to Fort Nelson via Dawson Creek along Highway 97 — a distance of more than 800 kilometres — has just three locations where a vehicle can be charged to 80 per cent power in an hour or less, creating challenges for people hoping to travel the route.

The disparity is also clear in a just-published analysis from the non-profit Community Energy Association, which acts as an advisory group to government associations. 

It found that while there is roughly one charging port every three square kilometres in Metro Vancouver, the number drops to one every 250 square kilometres in the Regional District of East Kootenay and one every 3,500 square kilometres in the Peace River Regional District, in the province's northeast.

"The more infrastructure we can get across the region ... the more the adoption of electric vehicles will increase," said the association's director of transportation initiatives, Danielle Weiss.

"We are excited to hear that B.C. Hydro is also viewing rural areas as a key focus for their new, enhanced charging technology."

B.C. Hydro says it currently has 153 charging units at 84 locations across the province with plans to add an additional 3,000 ports over the next 10 years.


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